BC Rail Royal Hudson dead?

Discussion in 'The Real Thing- North America' started by keechelus, Dec 18, 2000.

  1. keechelus

    keechelus New Member

    Hi gang:

    I've been having a great time at Dephi's RR Forum. It'll be interesting to see how this goes.

    Here is a story from a daily paper I posted at Delphi yesterday ... read it and weep.

    Here is a news story: (I would link this, but the link will expire before most of you get to see it)
    Kent Spencer The Province (Vancouver, BC) 16/12/2000

    The grand old Royal Hudson steam engine, in which a king once travelled across Canada, faces a less-than-regal future.

    Out of service indefinitely, the old lady sits in a North Vancouver yard, buttressed against the weather by tarps.

    The bottom line might prove to be the end of the line for the famous locomotive.

    "B.C. Rail is looking at costs and benefits," said spokesman Alan Dever. "The Royal Hudson is a low-end service which doesn't make money."

    The 60-year-old patient needs a new boiler and fire box at a cost estimated at $1 million.

    Even though the engine has been out of service for one year, people think it is still making runs to Squamish. But those are being made by a much less famous steam engine.

    The big bucks these days, says Dever, are in the high-end tourist trade.

    B.C. Rail is entering that market next year, on the same stretch of track on which the Royal Hudson used to travel to Squamish.

    The Whistler Northwind passenger train, with startup costs of $12 million, will offer a five-day round trip to Prince George for about $1,000. [see http://www.bcrail.com/whistlernorthwind/ ]

    "We expect it to be a money-maker," says Dever.

    But train buffs agree there is nothing quite like the sight of a steam engine huffing and puffing its way up Howe Sound.

    It's a scene marked by clouds of steam and smoke, engineers fiddling with knobs and gaping tourists.

    "This is a living, breathing thing," says Don Evans, president of the West Coast Railway Museum in Squamish.

    "It's magic."

    Tourism B.C. says the Hudson is a big part of its marketing campaign.

    "The train goes out on all our brochures," said Ray LeBlond.

    The Hudson is the last main-line, regularly scheduled steam passenger service in North America.

    It has appeared in movies, and remains an advertising icon, even though it hasn't made a trip this year.

    Summertime excursions to Squamish were billed as featuring the Royal Hudson. But they were pulled by the less glamorous steam locomotive No. 3716.

    Known as the Port Coquitlam, it was built in 1912. It is now pulling the Jingle Bell Express trains.

    "The difference between the two is the difference between a Model T and a Cadillac," says former Hudson engineer Stewart McLeod.

    He blames B.C. Rail for not having a financial plan in place.

    "You know it will need heavy-duty maintenance over a 25-year period," he says.

    "You would have thought they would have a contingency fund. They bled it and took all the money. It's a disgrace."

    The Royal Hudson was the pilot engine for King George VI on his cross-country trip in 1939.

    The King was so impressed he allowed the whole class of engines to be designated "royal."

    The Hudson, engine No. 2860, is currently in surroundings decidedly unfit for a king.

    Beneath the tarps, its sheet-metal jacket stripped away, the bolts on the boiler are rusting away.

    The shed which has been its home has been taken over for the winter by another steam engine.

    CP Rail is rebuilding another 70-year-old steam locomotive which will appear at special events as a kind of "step back in time."

    "The engine is a piece of art history," says CP spokeswoman Darcie Park. "People will be able to see, hear, smell and touch it.

    "We will get our money back from the $1-million rebuild."

    Dever says the decision on whether to refit the Royal Hudson will be made by the province.

    "In the meantime, the steam service will continue with the No. 3716" and a non-steam engine as a backup, said Dever. [that's CP 4069]

    B.C. Rail wasn't keen on publicity about the engine's plight, refusing to allow staff to pose with the old workhorse.

    "This engine is not in a state to be put on public display," said Dever


    Mentioned briefly in this story is the fact that many of the year 2000 RH trips were hauled by WCRA's CP 4069, a 1952 FP7A. This arrangement put a whack of dough into WCRA's treasury, accelerating the Heritage Park expansion, and helping along restoration of the B-unit 4459.

    PS: the actual 2860 didn't haul the Royal Train in 1939; that was, I think, 2850. 2860 was one of the last of the class, built the following year.

    CP 3716 is a Consol, restored to service 25 years ago and dressed up in CP tuscan and gold; colours the old black freight hog wouldn't have worn in her working life.

  2. enrailway

    enrailway New Member

    BC Rail hopes to fix the problem and have it out on the rails again. They're currently using 2-8-0 3716 and FP7A 4069, leased off the WCRA.

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